Aide's cause of death still not released

By AMBER BOLLMAN, Daily News Staff Writer - Jul 27, 2001

Repeated attempts Thursday to contact Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland about the death of Lori Klausutis were unsuccessful.

Six days after the 28-year-old aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough was found dead inside the congressman's Fort Walton Beach office, local police are still waiting to learn how and why Klausutis died.

"We are waiting on a report from the medical examiner," said Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue.

Berkland said last Saturday that he would likely be able to announce the cause of Klausutis' death by Wednesday, after receiving the results of blood toxicology tests.

But Berkland was out of town for a conference on Wednesday. On Thursday, even though assistants in Berkland's Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola offices said he had returned to the area, Berkland did not return repeated telephone calls.

Secretaries at both offices said he had checked in for his messages.

Klausutis, of Niceville, was found dead about 8 a.m. last Friday when a couple arrived at Scarborough's office for an appointment.

Police found no evidence of foul play or robbery at the scene, and Berkland said Saturday that he had ruled out homicide as the cause of Klausutis' death.

Berkland, who planned to review toxicology reports and medical records before announcing the cause of Klausutis' death, said she had likely died in the office sometime Thursday afternoon or evening.

Klausutis was buried Wednesday in Niceville.